Richard Leadbetter of Digital Foundry: Why the return of 30fps console games is inevitable

The dream of 60fps was nice while it lasted, Spider-Man 2 and Starfield will be 30fps


On UE5:
It's a tricky question to answer, but ultimately, I feel it is inevitable that the proliferation of 60fps support will slack off significantly - not least because so many titles are looking to tap into the full array of features offered by Epic's Unreal Engine 5, which sets the stage for a new 3D rendering paradigm. We've already had our first taste of the kind of fidelity UE5 offers thanks to last year's phenomenal demo - The Matrix Awakens - based on an early rendition of the engine's features. Lumen, tapping into hardware-accelerated ray tracing features, delivers an astonishingly realistic lighting solution, while Nanite offers a level of geometric detail in excess of traditional rendering.

It's quite unlike anything we've seen before, but the point is that the demo runs at an inconsistent 30fps during gameplay, while cutscenes are actually operating at a literally cinematic 24fps. Both CPU and GPU are put through the wringer here, so simply scaling down resolution to improve frame-rate will not help much.

On Gotham Knights:
To put it brutally, Gotham Knights' 30fps nature on consoles appears to be down to the authorship of the game as opposed to the raw capabilities of the hardware. It's only speculation of course, but based on what we've seen, the brute force power of the new machines is used to make a game that likely couldn't run well on PS4 and Xbox One work even at a basic level on PS5 and Xbox Series hardware. By extension, it's not the best example of why a transition to 30fps console gaming may be coming.


On Plague Tale: Requiem:
A Plague Tale: Requiem is a lot more interesting, simply because the reputation and accomplishments of Asobo Studio are exceptionally impressive. Here, we find a game that is pushing phenomenal levels of detail, beautiful materials and characters and a remarkable lighting solution. On PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, the native resolution is 2560x1440, using temporal accumulation to upscale to a convincing-looking 4K, while Series S runs at 900p with a 1080p output target. 30 frames per second is the target, but the fidelity Asobo aims for can see PlayStation 5 in particular drop beneath the performance target.

Would, say, a 1080p performance mode be possible for this title for the premium consoles? After all, if Series S delivers 900p30, the notion that Series X - with a notional 3x improvement to GPU power - could deliver 1080p60 doesn't sound outrageous. At this point, we need to consider that developers that aren't targeting last-gen console CPUs may already be challenging the Zen 2 cores with their latest wares. Our friend at the brilliantly-named Analog Foundry presented their take on A Plague Tale optimised settings for use on an RTX 3070 paired with a Ryzen 7 3700X CPU, based on the same Zen 2 architecture as the consoles. this clipsuggests that performance can drop into the mid to high 30s, likely down to CPU limitations as the GPU is clearly under-utilised. Based on the footage, running those many thousands of rates comes at a cost.


On 40FPS being the new "performance mode":
The goalposts have shifted with Asobo Studio opting for fidelity and visual accomplishment over performance - but there is a twist via support for 40fps on 120Hz displays. Sony's first-party studios have championed the use of 40fps fidelity modes for much of its recent output, including Uncharted: The Legacy Collection, Horizon Forbidden West and The Last of Us Part 1. The trend was kickstarted by Insomniac Games where its Spider-Man titles and Ratchet and Clank: Rift in Time showcased the feature. The reason 30fps exists in the first place is that it cleanly divides into the 60Hz refresh rate of most displays - the same frame persists for two screen refreshes and looks consistent. 40fps is the logical progression for the new wave of 120Hz screens: the screen refreshes three times per game frame and it offers a much smoother look than 30fps.

This may sound weird when you're 'only' getting an extra 10 frames per second but Frame-rate isn't linear, frame-time is. A 30fps game updates every 33.3ms, a 60fps game updates every 16.7ms. Targeting 40fps puts you bang in the middle with a 25ms per-frame persistence. It may well be 'only' an extra 10fps, but it looks so much smoother because it is at the exact mid-point between a 30fps and 60fps presentation.
To illustrate why frame-time is a more useful performance metric than frame-rate, consider this: the difference between 30fps and 60fps is 30fps but so is the difference between 90fps and 120fps. However, the improvement in frame-time - which is essentially how you perceive the flow of the game - drops by 16.7ms in the leap from 30fps to 60fps. However, boosting frame-rate from 90fps to 120fps only reduces frame-time by 2.8ms. Faster is better, but as frame-rate scales, actual perceivable improvements to performance swiftly enter the realm of diminishing returns. By the same token, cutting frame-time from 33.3ms (30fps) down to 25ms (40fps) is far more of a win perceptually than the frame-rate figure suggests.

https://www.eurogamer.net/digitalfoundry-2022-why-the-return-of-30fps-console-games-is-inevitable
 
As the generation goes forward devs will need to keep putting out better and better graphics to keep impressing the public to sell more copies, so a cut on framerate was to be expected at some point.

Hopefully first-party devs with more expertise will be able to reach 40 or even 60. 30 sucks.
 
Pro consoles anyone?


Confused High Quality GIF
 
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Mr Hyde

Gold Member
I'd rather the devs give us a choice of 30 or 60 fps, fidelity or performance, sacrificing graphics for smooth gameplay. Games today look so good so an improvement in framerate is a lot better imo. If you're going to push high end graphics at least give us a 40 fps option.
 

Topher

Gold Member
"On 40FPS being the new "performance mode":"

Better than nothing I suppose. I haven't tried 40fps modes yet so I may have to check that out next time and see how I feel about it.

30 fps is ok for some games, but for most AAA games on big screens it just doesn't work for me. Time for mid-gen refresh.

Ironic if it has been cross-gen games that have allowed 60fps so far. Folks should be careful what they ask for.
 
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This was painfully obvious to anyone with a clue about hardware. Games will increase in complexity and require more powerful hardware as time goes on.

I said this in another thread but as games become more demanding and pack in more complex systems, tweaking graphics settings will only get you so far before before frame rates need to be limited back to 30fps.

I’m fairly confident that once cross gen development is dropped, 30fps will be the standard again.
 

GymWolf

Gold Member
It's a fast action game. If they actually think that 30 fps is the right call on that type of game they're morons.
All sony games have actiony and fast paced combat except maybe tlou, they should all be 60 but you have limited choices with a cheap hardware.

You can't have

High res
High framerate
Big jump in graphic


Chose 2 (or 1,5 when 4k is checkboard and not native and the performance mode is 40 hz instead of 60)
 
All sony games have actiony and fast paced combat except maybe tlou, they should all be 60 but you have limited choices with a cheap hardware.

You can't have

High res
High framerate
Big jump in graphic


Chose 2 (or 1,5 when 4k is checkboard and not native and the performance mode is 40 hz instead of 60)
I'd say Spider Man more than all their other IPs demands smooth animations more than visual fidelity. But what do I know. The whole game is swinging on ropes smoothly while he flails around to show off the animations. You move through the city pretty quickly, so you're not staring at the details quite as much as the other games.
 

3liteDragon

Member
Requiem shouldn’t be running with drops & tears like that on PS5 in the first place so hope that gets patched along with a 60FPS mode, I’ll get it then.

But he’s dead wrong on using that one game to conclude we’re only gonna be getting 30FPS titles this gen, there definitely will be modes. Spider-Man 2 will have them for sure, it’s something that’s slowly being embraced by devs.
 
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93xfan

Member
Of course 30 fps is going to become the norm for these current consoles and its the very reasons we need these pro consoles in our hands sooner rather than later

But then they’ll make pro games 30FPS so better just release the PS6 sooner rather than later…. Make that a PS6 Pro
 
But then they’ll make pro games 30FPS so better just release the PS6 sooner rather than later…. Make that a PS6 Pro
I will never buy a PS Pro anything. Didn't get it on PS4 either.

I'd potentially consider a Xbox Pro just because I have a Series S so that wasn't quite as expensive.

Most likely will just skip both and get a Switch 2.
 

Skifi28

Member
Not quite convinced yet. When talking about consoles we're used to the PS4/Xone gen with shit CPUs that can't do 60fps or the 360/ps3 gen with crap GPUs that couldn't do 30, this is the first generations of consoles where they aren't really bottlenecked by one terrible compotent and I still think there will be room for a cut down 60fps mode in the majority of games. Will there be outliers? Sure, there will always be: Ambition, developer vision, budget and time constraints, but I expect the majority of games to remain GPU-bound which is relatively easy to scale by removing RT and/or lowering resolution. I expect RT will be becoming more and more common so performance modes aren't going anywhere.

As for CPU-bound scenarios, very few games will push these CPUs to the point 60 fps is impossible. A plague tale is a rare case where they want 300.000 rats at once, you won't see that too often. Most games will remain GPU-bound and if a game can't do 60fps on these CPUs, I have some bad news for the PC version too which you will have to bruteforce with top of the line hardware while saying goodbye to the 100+ frames you guys are used to.


Essentially, a Plague tale is the first major title to not have a 60 fps in over two years (Gotham knights is a Joke) and the fear mongering has already started. There's tons of 60+ major games on the Horizon with God of War being the next, I'm not really worried.
 

Jinzo Prime

Member
Of course 30 fps is going to become the norm for these current consoles and its the very reasons we need these pro consoles in our hands sooner rather than later

Yep. It's basically justifying the fact that mid-gen refreshes will become the norm. Want to play these glorious looking games AND maintain 60fps? Then you'll need this.

So eventually console gaming won't be cheaper than PC gaming, 'cause you need two, $500 consoles to keep playing with the performance you expect. Interesting.
 
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Ansphn

Member
I don't believe PlayStation 1st party games will be locked to 30FPS only because of Horizon (30FGS and 60FPS options) and God of War (30FGS, 40FPS , 60FPS and 120FPS options). This is the perfect situation for PlayStation to put some hurting on the Series S (Xbox's best selling console model) and show gamers that the system is holding back gaming so why keep buying it? Buy a PS5 instead.
 
I refuse to give up this fight, as gamers we should be directing our angry at the platform holders. Sony and Microsoft can make it a requirement of the platform that developers ship a 60fps option. Sony mandated it for PS VR they can do it across the board!

I’m not paying over $1000 between a new 4K TV and an expensive ass console to be stuck slumming it with 30fps!
 
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Swift_Star

Banned
"On 40FPS being the new "performance mode":"

Better than nothing I suppose. I haven't tried 40fps modes yet so I may have to check that out next time and see how I feel about it.

30 fps is ok for some games, but for most AAA games on big screens it just doesn't work for me. Time for mid-gen refresh.

Ironic if it has been cross-gen games that have allowed 60fps so far. Folks should be careful what they ask for.
They're amazing and are not that different from the 60fps modes. 40fps mode all the way for me, tbh.
 
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